Singapore native, MARGARET LENG TAN currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her FIVE dogs, three Steinways and twelve toy pianos. "The Art of the Toy Piano" is one of her recent recordings.
I admire Margaret Leng Tan's passion in expanding the boundaries of the piano beyond the pioneering work of Henri Cowell, John Cage and George Crumb. Her creative collaborations with composers, other "spiritual children" of John Cage, has resulted in performer-specific works which sound like no other. Her choreographic approach to the piano, reminiscent of chinese "tai-chi", is the outcome of highly co-ordinated movement between the keyboard and the piano's interior. In keeping with the philosophy of her long-time mentor, John Cage, Margaret Leng Tan's performances combine an Eastern spiritual concentration, the Zen art of "no-doing", with her western classical training. This is evident whether she is playing the prepared keyboard, on the strings of the piano, or even as she enters the world of the toy piano.
Her intense commitment to her art is unwavering.
After about ten years I meet Margaret face to face at the occasion of her superb performance of the prepared piano concert in Louvain. I recommand to enter the picture show HERE (click and go)
Hot news: visit Margaret Leng Tan's new homepage:http://home.earthlink.net/~margaretlengtan
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Click and listen to the short excerpt (399k, in mp3 format) of my performance of the composition for 2 toy pianos and two hands. About Noah's Boat of Ants (9:02) belongs to the CD on The P-ART PROJECT : 12 PORTRAITS(< click for info).
For this we sent you to Juilliard !? THE TOY PIANO Small but beautiful
Being a toy pianist presents its own peculiar challenges and rewards.
It's very hard work being a toy pianist - carting my pianos around the world, satisfying the curiosity of customs officials, convincing flight attendants that, yes, my piano will fit into the overhead compartment.
But on the other hand, I can practice in my hotel room, the pianos don't ever need tuning and the neighbours never complain. With the toy piano, I can always busk for a living; best of all, I get to be a sit-down comic in toy performances that lend themselves spontaneously to wit and parody.
One day , I am going to write my "Memoirs of a Toy Pianist" as I make that graceful transition into second childhood. In the meantime, some choice remarks from my notebook:
"Is she a dwarf?" or more elegantly phrased, "she looks like a big small person on stage."
"Don't worry , it's only toy nerves."
From my piano technician: "Now I can work on any Steinway!"
"I hope you're not getting toy fees for your performances."
Marketing division at PolyGram Classics and Jazz: "We don't want to pigeonhole you as it may pose a problem when you grow out of being a toy pianist."
My mother's reaction to the release of "The Art of the Toy Piano": "For this we sent you to Juilliard?"
It amuses me to see my little upright piano sitting on the plane comfortably strapped in place by its seatbelt, or in the studio surrounded by a forest of the highest of high-tech mikes; or to be asked to demonstrate my toy pianos for the graduate piano students at Juilliard. Most of all, I'm tickled to find my CD in Tower Records in its very own "TOY PIANO" compartment - now that's prime real estate.
MARGARET LENG TAN
My homepage: http://www.margaretlengtan.com
MARGARET LENG TAN
Email click > Margaret Leng Tan
You can read my personal reflections about John Cage (died in 1992) in my essay "THE SILENT REVOLUTION" (2002) on net:>http://www.andante.com/magazine/article.cfm?id=16636.
Go to ITEM #29 in the P-ART Journal: > Margaret Leng Tan's "The Art of the Toy Piano"
Mourning (2007) Look for MOURNING WORK IN PROCESS (October 2007) at YouTube click >youtube.com
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Selection of Discography
The Art of the Toy Piano (CD Point Music 456 345-2 :Philips/PolyGram label) 1997. > http://www.iclassics.com/iclassics/album.jsp?selectionId=705
Daughters of the Lonesome Isle: Piano Music of John Cage.New Albion NA 070. > http://www.newalbion.com/NA070
The Perilous Night/Four Walls. > http://www.newalbion.com/NA037
Litania: Margaret Leng Tan Plays Somei Satoh. > http://www.newalbion.com/NA008
Sonic Encounters: The New Piano (Cage, Crumb, Hovhaness, Satoh, Ge Gan-ru) Mode 15. > http://www.mode.com/catalog/015tan.html
The Seasons. > http://www.ecmrecords.com/ecm/recordings/1696.html
The Works for Piano 4: John Cage Edition Mode 25. > http://www.mode.com/catalog/106cage.html
Selection of Publications
Margaret Leng Tan, Toy Pianos. No Longer Toys!
Experimental Musical Instruments, Sept 1998, 16-20 (about the history of the toy piano);
Margaret Leng Tan, John Cage Poses a Few Last Questions.
New York Times:Memoir of August 1, 1993 about her last day with John Cage;
Margaret Leng Tan, "Taking a Nap, I Pound the Rice": Eastern Influences on John Cage.
In: John Cage at Seventy-Five. Bucknell University Press (1989), 34-57.
Margaret Leng Tan,"The silent revolution" (2002). Essay about John Cage who died 10 years ago:1992 > http://www.andante.com/magazine/article.cfm?id=16636.
Toying With Cage: Margaret Leng Tan Brings a Virtuoso's Touch to the Keyboards of the Avant-Garde [June 2000 interview]
Click > http://music.barnesandnoble.com/features/interview.asp?NID=315413
Margaret Leng Tan's homepage > http://home.earthlink.net/~margaretlengtan
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New UPDATED pictures (concert Louvain) October 2007 Updated page: September 2002 / Full upgraded: August 2002 This page belongs to: http://users.skynet.be/P-ART